Complaints Filed After Alleged Land Grabbing

More than 100 villagers from four provinces arrived in Phnom Penh earlier this week to file complaints with the Council of Ministers and Agriculture Ministry over five in­stances of alleged land grabbing in Ratanakkiri, Kompong Chhnang, Kratie and Koh Kong provinces, officials said.

Outside the Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday afternoon, villager Romam Ky from Ratanakkiri said he had successfully filed his complaint with the chief of administration, Chan Heng, over a concession granted to a construction company in Andong Meas district, which he claimed affects 10,000 hectares of villager land.

Other complaints refer to 30,000 hectares granted to three companies in Kratie’s Sambo district, 10,000 hectares in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel district, 3,000 hectares in Koh Kong’s Toek Phos district and 450 hectares in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadaw district.

David Pred, country director of the NGO Bridges Across Borders, said that a total of 20,000 villagers are affected by the five disputes.

Oum Meng, 65, a member of a community network that orchestrated the group advocacy effort said his hope was that their complaints would resonate if they came together.

“We all contacted each other that our land had been grabbed. So, we decided to come together,” he said.                         “One chopstick, you can break. But you can’t break a bunch of chopsticks,” he added.

Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said later in the day that he had re­ceived the complaints.

“Our officials will go to the provinces to investigate,” he said, though he added that thorough investigations were conducted before the land concessions were granted to the companies in question.

“We have examined very clearly,” he said.

Villagers and NGO workers said that complaints were also successfully filed at the Council of Ministers, but Chum Bunrong, deputy secretary-general for the government’s land dispute authority, said by telephone Wednesday afternoon that he had not received the complaints.


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